Samson-Power

The 1997 World Muscle Power Classic

The World Muscle Power Classic (WMPC) is the second most prestigious strongman contest in the world. It takes a close second to the World's Strongest Man Competition. It is organized and produced by Doug Edmunds and the Reeves Brothers. Past winners of the WMPC include such legends as Bill Kazmaier, Jon Pall Sigmarsson, Jaime Reeves, Magnus ver Magnusson, Manfred Hoebrel and, of course, this year's winner, Jouko Ahola. The following is an account to the 1998 WMPC as seen through the eyes of aspiring strongman Mark Keshsishian. He traveled with and coached Gary Mitchell in his second appearance at the WMPC. Mark hopes to be invited to next year's WMPC held in Collender, Scotland at the end of July 1999.

The World Muscle Power Classic


by: Mark Keshishian


Doug Edmunds


Imagine the greenest shade of green that you have ever seen, now make it even greener. Then, you can start to appreciate how green Scotland is. This year's World Muscle Power Classic (WMPC) was held in Collender, Scotland. Collender is a very small town on the very edge of the highlands of Scotland. Three hundred and sixty-three days out the year, it is a peaceful and tranquil spot. However, for two days out of the year, the strongest men in the world fight it out for the honor of being the next WMPC champion.
This year was no different. The field of competitors this year was very impressive. The competitors were: Mike Abdulla of Japan; Jouko Ahola who was this year's World's Strongest Man; Brian Bell of Scotland; Raimond Bergmanis of Latvia; Bowers; Russ Bradley of England; Green; Mark Phillipi who was this year's U.S. Strongman Champion; the bodybuilding posing sensation Pintinas; Wayne Price of South Africa; Rossitter; and of course, my training partner Gary Mitchell. Twelve competitors were all competing for one spot. The winner of this competition was also guaranteed an invite to the World's Strongest Man Competition, which will be held in October in Tangiers, Morocco.

Mark and Jouko Ahola

Mark and Raimond Bergmanis

Gary Mitchell

 


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Opening Ceremony
Opening ceremonies started with a parade. Several bag pipe bands played as the "World Highland Games Competitors" and the "World Muscle Power Classic Competitors" entered the field. The world Muscle Power Classic (WMPC) competitors lined up in front of the Chieftains table. This game's honorary chieftain was the 1997 World Strongest Man Jouko Ahola. He was dressed in a kilt and officially started the Games by banging the sword on the shield to the four winds.

Gary Mitchell is introduced to the crowd

The competitors

Ryan Vierra is introduced

The competitors march past the stones

 


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The first event was the wench. The wench was set up differently this year. Last year, the cars were opposed. This year, they were lined up side by side to make it look more like a head-to-head competition. The original idea was to pull two cars on each wench, but the first two competitors could not move the second car. So, they changed it to one car. Each competitor got two tries. One run in each direction. Mark Phillipi, the US Strongman Final Champion, recorded the best time. He completed the event in just under 18 seconds. The average time in this event was 20 to 21 seconds.
Gary's first try was not nearly as good as we had hoped, but he had a rotten starting position, as did everyone else who used the right side wench. The handle was all the way down. This is a major disadvantage. His second turn was much better finishing the turns in about 20 seconds.

The cars

The wench apparatus

The first competitors

Gary and Mark Phillipi approach the wench

Gary pulling with all of his might

So fast the picture is blurry

 


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The next event was the Tree Trunk Lift. This was a new event. Apparently, it was designed for the women's competitors, but last minute changes made it much, much heavier for the men. It is similar to a standing military press or the old Olympic press.
Gary made it through the third attempt, but then hyper extended his back. This would effectively end the competition for him.

Approaching the tree trunk press

   

     

 

Right before the injury

That's a hyper-extended back

 

 


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Next came the classic McGlashen stones, need I say more? This time however, the traditional number one McGlashen stone was replaced by the number one Atlas stone. The original number one stone has become no challenge to today's super-strongmen. In this event, Ahola was the only man to get all 5 stones on the barrels. He did it in a fantastic 19 seconds! I would call it a new unofficial world record and was quite a sight to see. Apparently, the kegs were set up a little closer together than usual. That is what I had been told, but a phenomenal display of strength nonetheless. Needless to say, he was flying.
This was also Gary's last event. We had some American Strength Legend and GMA Products t-shirts printed up the night before we left. We were hoping that it would bring Gary a little extra luck. His back was pretty messed up and very tight at this point. He said that he experienced shooting pains running down both of his legs. Nevertheless, he still managed to get up the #3 stone before time ran out. It looked like it was very hard for him. The number three would have been no problem had has back been in good shape. He has shouldered and walked around my front yard with our number two stone, which actually weighs a little more than the number 3 McGlashen. He has even lifted our number two for five reps without too much difficulty. It was after this event that we decided to back out of the competition.

The Stones

Stone number 1

Gary attacks stone number 3

 

Almost up

Three stones done

 

 


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Day 2
The first event was the log press. I was very impressed by these "new logs." They are very professional and well put together. I believe that 3 competitors made it to the 165 kilo (363 pounds) mark. Ahola was the only one not to jerk the weight up. He instead decided to press it overhead in a very strict sense. I really thought that Raimond Bergmanis would win this event. After all, he was an internationally ranked Olympic lifter, but the ground proved to be too soft for his split jerk technique. Every competitor had footing and balance problems. Most of them began to sink into the mud.

The new logs

 

Mark Phillipi

Jouko Ahola

Raimond Bergmanis

Raimond Bergmanis

 

Mark Phillipi

Mark Phillipi

 

 


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The Basque circle was next. This event is like the WSM Basque cart circle. However, the power stairs shaped weight was used instead. Jouko was so dominant in this event, that he jogged with the apparatus while the others walked and stumbled. Wow!

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The Anvil Hold was after that. This event was also modified from last year to make it better. The apparatus was larger with a harness to secure the competitors. The harness was attached to a several large medal spikes that were driven about two and a half feet into the ground, which served as a counter-balance to the anvil. This made the event into a pure grip-testing event. Here, Ahola toyed with this apparatus. He was talking to Jock Reeves, Jaime Reeves and Douggie Edmunds while he was holding on to the weight. They were talking about where they were going to go for dinner!

The grip event
Wane Price

Jouko Ahola

Jouko asks Jaime, "Chinese or Haggis tonight?"

Jaime helps Mark Phillipi get into position

   

 


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The super yoke tested the athletes next. Two Ford 6 cylinder engine blocks were attached by way of a 2.5 inch pipe. Not much drama went on here. A few competitors didn't make the finish line. Again, this had very little to do with lack of strength. Rather, the poor footing was the competitors worse enemies. Ahola won this event.

The super yoke

Mark Phillipi and the super yoke

Bergmanis's turn

 


Phillipi after the super yoke

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The Carry and Waddle came last (event title credit goes to Gary Mitchell). This last event was supposed to be a medley, but under the conditions, it became the carry and waddle. It looked like the block used in the power stairs. It weighed approximately 500 to 550 pounds. In the last run of competitors, Mark Phillipi and Jouko Ahola were pitted against one another. Phillipi was out to a very strong start. In fact he was out in front of Ahola by two or three feet. Then, Mark lost his grip unfortunately. He recovered quickly, but not quickly enough. Ahola had caught up to him. Ahola saw this window of opportunity open and he hit the turbo booster. He took off. He started running with it. It seemed as if it was a toy to him.

Phillipi in the lead

After Mark loses it, Jouko takes off

 


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The Final results

First Place: Jouko Ahola-87 points
Second Place: Raimond Bergmanis-72 points
Third Place: Mark Phillipi-71.5 points
Fourth Place: Brian Bell-67 points
Fifth Place: Pintinas-61.5 points
Sixth Place: Wayne Price-87 points
Seventh Place: Bowers-58 points
Eighth Place: Mike Abdulla-47.5 points
Ninth Place: Rossitter-34 points
Tenth Place: Green-30 points
Withdrew due to injuries: Gary Mitchell and Russ Brown



Overall Impressions
This contest ran quite smoothly overall. There were a few last minute changes and snags, but overall it was run much better than 1997 US Strongman Finals and the 1997 World Strongest Man competition in Primm, Nevada. The WMPC was not set up for T.V. So, there were less constraints.
The weather was cold and wet. Saturday was very misty. Sunday, it rained most of the day. Great strongman weather. Ha Ha.
All in all, it was a great competition except for Gary injuring himself. Even Gary said he had a fun time. I'm glad I went.

Your roving ASL Reporter,
Mark S. Keshishian
I want to thank Justin and ASL for posting this article for all those years, and all the help he has been to me and this sport!